Season series: This is the third and final meeting of the season, and the only one at Xcel Energy Center. The teams split the first two meetings, with each winning by a one-goal margin.
Big story: Minnesota has won six games in a row – and 14 of its last 18 – to bring the Wild even with Vancouver for first in the Northwest Division, while Phoenix has slipped to last in the Pacific after a six-game losing streak in which it has been outscored 16-5.
Coyotes: It has been tough sledding for Phoenix of late. After winning four of its first six to start March, Phoenix has lost six in a row – including three shutouts. The Coyotes lost four of those by one goal, including Monday’s matchup against Detroit - 3-2.
Now the Coyotes must earn valuable points – they sit four points outside of the eighth playoff spot – on the road, where they are 0-4-1 over their last five.
"I'm a big believer that you earn your breaks and you earn your confidence, and right now we're not doing those things," Head Coach Dave Tippett said.
The Coyotes are 5-0-1 at Minnesota and 9-3-2 overall against the Wild under Tippett.
Goalie Mike Smith, who missed Monday's game because of an upper-body injury, is on the injured reserve list and will not play vs. Minnesota, or against Nashville on Thursday. That leaves Tippett to choose between Jason LaBarbera or Chad Johnson.
Wild: If Minnesota keeps winning at its current clip, the State of Hockey could clinch its first postseason berth since 2007-08 sooner rather than later. Much of the recent success has stemmed from a potent attack. Minnesota has outscored opponents 27-14 over its six-game win streak. In a 7-4 defeat of Dallas on Monday, Minnesota rattled off seven goals, its most in four seasons. And none of those goals came on the Wild’s suddenly effective power play, which had converted five of 11 chances over the previous four games.
"I love the way that we're scoring goals," Head Coach Mike Yeo said. "There's skill involved, but it's matching our identity that we're a hard team. We're physical, we defend hard and we're going to be hard offensively with the way we get to the net and the way we wear on teams."
Who’s hot: Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle is first on the team and is tied for seventh among NHL defensemen with 18 takeaways. He also leads NHL defensemen with 97 shots and will enter the game with a two-game point streak vs. the Wild. ... Wild captain Mikko Koivu has five goals and 11 assists over the team’s 11-3-0 stretch while alternate captain Zach Parise has three goals and an assist in his past two games.
Injury report: Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. … Minnesota goalie Josh Harding is day-to-day with an illness.
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